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38 Dead, Scores Missing in Philippines Ferry Collision

Rescue teams in the Philippines are struggling through rough seas in their search for scores of people still missing after a passenger ferry sank off the coast of Cebu province.

Officials say 38 people are now confirmed dead with about 82 missing following the ferry's collision with a cargo ship late Friday. Authorities sharply reduced the number of missing Sunday.

On Saturday, stormy weather forced divers to halt their search for people missing and believed still trapped on the ferry that came to rest more than 30 meters under water outside Cebu port. The search resumed early Sunday.

The ferry St. Thomas Aquinas collided with the 11,000-ton freighter Sulpicio Express 7 about two kilometers off shore, nearly 600 kilometers southwest of Manila. The captain gave orders to abandon ship and many people strapped on life jackets, then jumped into the sea in the late night darkness. The 40-year-old ferry sank within minutes.

Hundreds of the more than 800 passengers and crew members were pulled safely from the sea.



The ferry passengers included scores of children and infants. A Philippine official says they still hold out hope there might be more survivors.

On average, ferry accidents kill hundreds of people each year in the Philippines - an archipelago of 7,100 islands that has a notoriously poor record for maritime safety. The world's worst peacetime sea disaster was in the Philippines in 1987, when 4,375 passengers and crew aboard the ferry Dona Paz died after a collision with a freighter in the Sibuyan Sea. Only 26 people survived.

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